---- — LYNN — After three quarters of grasping, clutching, scraping and pining for points, Andover dipped into its storied recent past, pouring in threes from every conceivable angle in the fourth quarter to run away from top-seeded Lynn English, 55-47, in the Division 1 North quarterfinals last night.
The transformation staggered even coach Jim Tildsley, whose blue-collar crew played 32 minutes of full-court pressure defense yet found the legs in the fourth to hoist and collect on 7 of 12 3-point missiles in the final eight minutes.
“We’ve had quarters like that ... not this year ... but in the past,” said Tildsley, whose 8th seeded Warriors will face No. 5 Central Catholic in the North semis Wednesday night at Tewksbury High. “We’re just not very good offensively.”
The 23-point fourth — a season-high quarter — was so remarkable because of the offensive strife the Warriors endured over the first 24 minutes.
“It has to wear on you, going four or five minute stretches without scoring, and we went through it,” said Tildsley. “We’d go out and make 8 or nine stops in a row, and make up no points. You can’t help but be discouraged.”
But the Warriors never did. Buoyed by the defensive vise clamped on the Bulldogs, they kept firing until it flowed.
“It’s something, as a shooter, I’ve dealt with a lot,” said Olivia Biles, who knocked in three triples in a 13-point afternoon. “You can’t get your heads down or push the panic button. We’ve got a long, great history here, and you just have to keep on pushing until you break through.”
Knotted at 32-32, each team had its issues to bear.
The Warriors had spent agonizing minutes prowling the floor on defense and fatigue might have been a factor.
And the Bulldogs were burdened by foul trouble, led by star point guard Catherine Stinson in deep with four.
Senior Devon Caveney ripped the lid off for the Warriors with a bomb that made it 35-34 Andover, and Jackie Alois’ wing triple again knotted things at 38 apiece with under five minutes to play.
Down 40-39, Biles gave the Warriors the lead for good, followed by another open look from Alois off a turnover, and a deal-closer by Angelice Gonzalez with 2:40 to play as Andover extended to 48-40.
In a flash, it was over.
“Finally, we hit some shots, and it’s all the kids,” said Tildsley. “The defensive was just incredible all night, and they found a way.”
Caveney led the Warriors with 14 points, and Alois had a dozen.
Now, it’s on to Central and a chance to even the score. The Raiders won two of the three regular season meetings.
“It’s a matchup I can’t wait for,” said Biles.
The Merrimack Valley Conference has claimed three of the four spots in the North semis, with Billerica facing Westford Thursday night in the other semifinal at Whittier Tech.
agateHed:Andover 55, Lynn English 47
agateText:Andover (55):@zzAgate:agateText: Angelice Gonzalez 2 1-3 6, Devon Caveney 4 4-7 14, Jessica Witten 0 1-2 1, Olivia Biles 4 2-2 13, Rebecca Alois 1 0-0 2, Abby Katz 3 1-5 7, Jackie Alois 3 3-5 12, Totals 17 12-24 55
agateText:Lynn English (45):@zzAgate:agateText: Diondra Woumn 7 6-9 20, Kiana Cedeno 0 4-5 4, Catherine Stinson 2 0-2 5, Makayla Everette 2 1-3 5, Dolores Latimer 0 1-2 1, Shannon Caban 2 0-0 4, Deidra Newson 3 0-5 8, Totals 16 12-26 47
agateText:3-pointers:@zzAgate:agateText: A — Gomez, Caveney 2, Biles 3, J. Alois 3; LE — Stinson, Newson 2
agateText:Andover (18-6):@zzAgate:agateText: 13 6 13 23 — 55
agateText:Lynn English (21-3):@zzAgate:agateText: 10 12 10 15 — 47